Brokers relinquish circular saw

City Diary

No more brokers' circulars! Five of the UK's largest stockbroking firms have decided to do their bit for saving the rainforests by delivering research electronically, straight to the desk tops of fund managers. The brokers, which include SBC Warburg and NatWest Securities, reckon that last year alone they published more than 18,000 pieces of research which used over 1,600 tons of paper pulp - representing 19,500 trees. They also employed more than 2.3 million individual courier runs to deliver the stuff, generating untold amounts of Kawasaki 250 exhaust fumes. First Call Research Direct is the outfit delivering the material screen-to-screen. It may be a green idea, but it's a sad day for ropey motorbike enthusiasts.

I think it was Winston Churchill who asked, after being appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, "What is a Duchy and where is Lancaster?" Anyway, Roger Freeman is the present incumbent, and Minister of Public Services to boot. Mr Freeman is also the minister responsible for implementing the Government's policy on Mad Cow Disease and the eradication thereof. The National Farmers' Union has invited the minister to address its north- eastern area on the subject, and obviously has a very clear idea of the Duchy's duties. In its announcement, the NFU dubs Mr Freeman simply: "Mr BSE."

Now that Lord Kingsdown has retired as Governor of the Bank of England he has more time to devote to his favourite hobbies such as bee-keeping and being Lord Lieutenant of Kent. But it's not all fun. Every month he has to head off to Basle for the board meeting of the Bank for International Settlements, the central bank for central banks. Lord Kingsdown has been a director since stepping down as Governor, and is succeeding Carlo Azeglio Ciampi as BIS vice-chairman. Not to worry, though. The BIS's formal meetings are extremely short. According to sources, all the real business is done informally. "The BIS is like a global restaurant for central bankers," the source said. Sounds like the ideal retirement job.

Howard Seymour, head of BZW's construction research team, recently sent his deputy, Chris Grant, on an analysts' trip to Denver, Colorado. A dozen analysts were there to hear a presentation by the giant construction firm Camas. The analysts took themselves off to a local Denver night spot called the I-Zone - where Mr Grant was refused entry. Apparently the doorman refused to believe Mr Grant was over 20 without suitable identification. Perhaps this explains Mr Grant's nickname among fellow analysts - "Student."

NatWest Ventures has just completed an MBO of an MBO - a pounds 20m secondary buyout of the Solicitors' Law Stationery Society. This supplier of paper and biros to the legal profession is better known as "Oyez" , and was formerly owned by that famous upholder of the law, Robert Maxwell.

One way to get going: The venture capital group 3i has done an analysis of 164 companies it has invested in, titled: The independent business sector - what does it take to be successful? By using "stepwise multi-regression and qualitative response models" (ooh-er), and cartoons such as the one below, 3i came to the startling conclusion that fast-growing companies have "a strongly focused business strategy" and high profits come from "product differentiation". Blow me down with a feather.

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